Solution Pitch

The Problem 

In Kenya, 10.8 percent of the population suffers from a mental illness. Unfortunately, investment in mental health is insufficient. Only 0.01 percent of the annual health budget goes to mental health, and this is compounded by the fact that there are only 62 government psychiatrists serving 47 million Kenyans. Most of these psychiatrists are based in Nairobi, with a few in major urban centers, making it difficult for poor and underserved communities to access mental health services. Limited availability and affordability of mental health care services, low mental health literacy, and stigma have led to an 85 percent treatment gap among low-income communities in Kenya.

The Solution

Pamoja Initiative is a person-centered mental health care model that combines technological innovation and community-based psychosocial support. Pamoja trains and deploys a network of peers in their community to provide lay services and referrals. The peers are the trusted sources of lay counseling and referral for affected members of their community, their families, and others in distress or coping with mental illness. They are linked to specialists based at the Pamoja clinic and mobile mental health units, both of which are fitted with telepsychiatry for instant referral, support supervision, and training. This enables underserved communities to have access to affordable, high-quality services at their doorstep.

Market Opportunity

Government data show that 10.8 percent of Kenya’s population have a mental illness. This means that 550,000 people among the 5.1 million residents of Nakuru are likely to need mental health services. The average cost for outpatient treatment at PDO Kenya is $12 per patient. As Pamoja scales up, the target is to serve 50,000 people every month by the end of 2024.

Organization Highlights

  • Media feature in Voice of America TV for Pamoja’s mental health response during COVID-19.

  • Featured in UNAIDS Community Innovations of 2020.

  • Dr. Kabii Mungai of the Nakuru County Government Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PDO Founder and Chairman, Iregi Mwenja, in 2016.

  • Partnered with Segal Family Foundation in 2021.

Partnership Goals

  • Mentorship and expertise for scaling mental health services in additional counties.

  • Partners to assist in training on refining “deep scaling strategies” to enhance the health and social value of the existing model.

  • Expertise and experience in financing similar existing models.  

Solver Team

Organization Type:

Nakuru, Kenya


Working In:

Current Employees: 

Solution Website:

Solution Team:

  • Iregi Mwenja Mr. Founder and CEO, Psychiatric Disability Organization
  • Miss Racheal Tungu Psychologist, Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO) of Kenya

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